Thu, 27 Jan 1994 15:05:16 CST

To Homer Barnett's and Ellie Maranda's work, let me add one more: the work
of Martin Silverman, e.g., _Disconcerting Issue_ and his article on a
Banaban (Ocean Islander) meeting in M. Lieber (ed) _Exiles and Migrants in
Oceania._ Martin worked with a community that had undergone radical change
on their own island as it was literally carried away by phosphate mining.
When they relocated to Rambi Island in Fiji, they tried to replicate their
community and found that they no longer knew what their traditional
community was like. Adapting to an empty island meant figuring out
subsistence strategies, social organization, and relations with the colonial
government simultaneously. They did this by a process that Silverman called
"testing out." People would reach concensus on an organizational principle
believed to be traditional, and then they would try it, i.e., test it out,
modify it, try it again, see how it fit with other organizational forms they
were testing, modify those, etc.. It's a fascinating account of what has
to be considered negotiating culture through historical revisionism as
sequential and integrative hypothesis generation and testing.

Mike Lieber